MADLab Users Publish Scientific Paper

A Versatile System for High-Throughput In Situ X-ray Screening and Data Collection of Soluble and Membrane-Protein Crystals
Cryst. Growth Des., 2016, 16 (11), pp 6318–6326
Jana Broecker, Viviane Klingel, Wei-Lin Ou, Aidin R. Balo, David J. Kissick, Craig M. Ogata, Anling Kuo, and Oliver P. Ernst
Department of Biochemistry and §Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Toronto


We introduce the Mylar in situ method that uses Mylar-based sandwich plates, which are advantageous over established designs. Cognate holders make the method robust and versatile and allow for automated crystal imaging, screening, and goniometer-based X-ray diffraction data collection at room temperature and under cryogenic conditions for soluble and membrane-protein crystals grown in or transferred to these plates.


In recent years, in situ data collection has been a major focus of progress in protein crystallography. Here, we introduce the Mylar in situ method using Mylar-based sandwich plates that are inexpensive, easy to make and handle, and show significantly less background scattering than other setups. A variety of cognate holders for patches of Mylar in situ sandwich films corresponding to one or more wells makes the method robust and versatile, allows for storage and shipping of entire wells, and enables automated crystal imaging, screening, and goniometer-based X-ray diffraction data-collection at room temperature and under cryogenic conditions for soluble and membrane-protein crystals grown in or transferred to these plates. We validated the Mylar in situ method using crystals of the water-soluble proteins hen egg-white lysozyme and sperm whale myoglobin as well as the 7-transmembrane protein bacteriorhodopsin from Haloquadratum walsbyi. In conjunction with current developments at synchrotrons, this approach promises high-resolution structural studies of membrane proteins to become faster and more routine.

Chad Holden

It is with mixed feelings that I write to tell you about the departure of Chad Holden from the ACT team. Luckily, however, Chad remains with the University as the new Lead Systems and Support Administrator in the Division of the Vice-President and Provost.

Chad started at the University in 2001 as the Manager of Art Direction in the Faculty of Physical Education and Health.  In 2005 he joined the Shared Services Strategic Computing team as a Senior Web Analyst.

In that role, Chad also provided leadership for the University-wide collaborative Web Working Group, as well as the Accessibility Group for the Provost’s group of websites, where he wrote the original web accessibility guidelines for U of T.

Through a series of reorganizations in ITS, Chad became a member of the Web Services team within Integrated Client Services, and then part of Academic & Collaborative Technologies.

His return to the Provost’s portfolio is a return home in some ways.

Outside of work, Chad, who is a formally trained graphic designer, has several hobbies and a young family that keeps him hopping.

Our best wishes to Chad on this new opportunity.

Varsity Articles about Portal

Our student newspaper, The Varsity, has been covering our Academic Toolbox Renewal Initiative. Read what they have to say:

The Portal to the Future (Feb. 2016)

UofT Seeks New Learning Portal (Sept. 2016)

MADLab @ Gerstein Gets a Shout Out

The MADLab @ Gerstein Library got a nice shout out from the UofT Mechatronics Design Association, a multidisciplinary student group, that has been promoting robotics since 2005. Thanks MDA!

Watch their video:

For more on the MADLab, check out:

The Learning Portal is Changing!

* Please share widely *

The Learning Portal is Changing!

Our current Learning Portal hasn’t changed much in the last decade. Feedback from the University community is that the web interface for the Portal is clunky and out of date, and it doesn’t flow the way people would like. It’s also hard for instructors to incorporate new tools into their teaching.

Instead of an all-inclusive single website with built-in tools, we hope that our future Learning Portal will be a web interface that feels much more like a smart phone.  Like your smart phone, the new environment should have an “operating system” with some core functionality (the ‘Learning Management Engine’). And like your smart phone, the new environment should have an ‘app store’ with integrated teaching and learning apps, and a way for instructors and students to suggest or build new apps. And of course, the new environment needs a cleaner, more contemporary user interface.

Learn more and get involved, including attending Learning Management Engine presentations (starting August 11):

LME Poster

LME Poster

Lots more PSE/EdTech Reading

Mostly new articles from the last month or so, plus a revisit to a couple of older ones. Enjoy. Share. And send me others to read too.

6 Implications of the Next-Generation Digital Learning Environments (NGDLE) Framework
by Malcolm Brown, June 27, 2016

Amazon’s Quiet Dominance of Higher-Ed Learning Platforms
By Phil Hill, July 01, 2016

The Quest for Great Instructional Designers
By Paxton Riter, June 7, 2016

Which Ed-Tech Tools Truly Work? New Project Aims to Tell Why No One Seems Eager to Find Out
By Goldie Blumenstyk, July 21, 2016

How to Fix Higher Education: The case for more nimble, student-focused and collaborative schools
By Carol L. Folt,  June 7, 2016

Incubating the Next Big Idea: The University of Michigan’s Digital Innovation Greenhouse
by Kristi DePaul, June 27, 2016

Science Students Learn to Use Social Media to Communicate Research
By Arielle Martinez, July 18, 2016

Virtual reality really is heading to a university near you
By Alice Bonasio,  July 8, 2016

College Campuses Are Being Overrun by Pokémon Go
By Gabriel Sandoval, July 12, 2016

As Free Textbooks Go Mainstream, Advocate Says Colleges Should Do More to Support Them
By Goldie Blumenstyk, July 12, 2016

Virginia District Explores MinecraftEDU as Learning Platform
By Dian Schaffhauser,  06/09/16

The Danger of Predictions in Education
By John Warner, July 5, 2016

For Students Taking Online Courses, a Completion Paradox
By Jeffrey R. Young, July 04, 2016


Making Sense of Blended Learning: Treasuring an Older Tradition or Finding a Better Future?
by John Daniel, February 24, 2016

Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away
Clay Shirky, Sep 8, 2014

Business School, Disrupted
By JERRY USEEM, MAY 31, 2014

I Don’t Teach Technology
by Art Willer, M. Ed.

Holiday Weekend Readings

Happy Canada Day / Happy Fourth O’July
Here’s some more education + technology reading for your enjoyment:


How to Prepare Professors Who Thought They’d Never Teach Online
By Jeffrey R. Young June 21, 2016

The Die-Hard University: Despite its critics now and over the ages, the university has somehow endured into its ninth century
By James Axtell  June 20, 2016

What a Microsoft-Owned LinkedIn Means for Education
By Dian Schaffhauser June 20, 2016

An Elsevier African Megajournal Proposal:  Re-colonizing the university in Africa?
by Eva Gray  June 23, 2016

‘Indistinguishable from reality’: Elon Musk says we’re probably living in a simulation – here’s the science
by Mark Robert Anderson June 23, 2016

This Simple Computer Game Seriously Boosts Children’s Math Skills
by Robin Andrews  June 16, 2016

Preparing for ‘Era of Data Ubiquity’: Researchers convene to discuss how the deluge of data collected about students can be used to benefit higher education without compromising privacy.
By Carl Straumsheim   June 28, 2016

U of T’s Citizen Lab and Open Effect develop privacy watchdog tool for Canadian consumers
By Adrienne Harry  June 24, 2016

Learning More About Active Learning
by David Gooblar  June 29, 2016

Internet Trends 2016 – Code Conference
by Mary Meeker  June 1, 2016

Evaluation of Lecture Capture Appliances
by Raul Burriel and Christopher Dechter  June 2016

3D Printing @ the MADLab

Here’s a nice article about 3D Printing in our MADLab:

Our colleagues, Erica Lenton and Carolyn Dineen from Gerstein Library, do a very nice job describing what’s involved in setting up a 3D printing service:

“We use a certification process designed to train users on the printers, introduce them to design software, and test them on their knowledge of the equipment and printing process … The issues with our service are predictable. For example, how can we expect people to get into 3D printing with no prior experience or hands-on assistance? There are at least six hoops that users have to jump through before getting to the printer! Isn’t that a bit much? This is a conundrum of a “mediated” DIY service: How do you provide unfettered access to technology, encouraging experimentation and hands-on, self-directed learning, while also ensuring everyone’s safety and security in an unsupervised environment? Our solution is to inject as much support as we can, at each step of the creative process, from imagining the design, to troubleshooting design and printing issues, to sharing the final product.”

More Reading (June 20 selection)

Happy Monday. Here are some more readings on EdTech, PSE and general tech with a possible impact on education. Enjoy!


EdTech Stories

Counseling in 140 Characters: Engagement with diverse students requires that faculty and staff members develop new social-media strategies to reach students
by Alfreda James. June 13, 2016

Why EdTech Is A Good, But Not Great, Business
by Joshua Kim  April 24, 2016

Teaching and Learning Technologies: “Blending personal with digital: the quest for the perfect teaching and learning environment”
CUCCIO News Summary (no date)

How Academics and Researchers Can Get More Out of Social Media
by Lina Duque, June 08, 2016


PSE Stories

Copyright-free material edging out Canadian educational texts: Plunging educational book sales like ‘falling off a cliff’
by Nigel Hunt, June 19, 2016

YouTube Space Toronto opens at George Brown
(Press release: April 26, 2016)

Tri-Agency Statement of Principles on Digital Data Management
Government of Canada. June 15, 2016

This chart tells a fascinating story about higher education
by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel June 8, 2016

Nunavut not yet ready for its own university: Quassa Study suggests partnering with established university
NUNATSIAQ NEWS – June 9, 2016

George Brown finalizes $2.73M payout for students misled by course summary: International students paid $11K in tuition expecting to earn professional designations
by Laura Fraser, June 18, 2016

Are universities preparing students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?
by Selina Chignall April 27, 2016

Canada 150: U of T prepares to mark a big birthday
UofT News. June 3, 2016


General Tech (with possible impact on ed) stories

Why Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26 billion, in one word: Cortana – Know everything about your business contact before you even walk into the room.
by Mark Hachman. June 13, 2016

Creepy startup will help landlords, employers and online dates strip-mine intimate data from your Facebook page
by Caitlin Dewey, June 9, 2016


This week’s readings

A few more items you may find interesting:

Online Education: A Catalyst for Higher Education Reforms (April, 2016)
Karen E. Willcox, Sanjay Sarma, Philip H. Lippel, MIT

Ignore Edtech at Your Peril
(June 6, 2016)
Jonathan Rees, Colorado State University – Pueblo

How Ten Key Developments Are Shaping The Future of Technology-Enable Learning

Kivuto and CICan Launch Partnership to Help Colleges and Institutes Go Digital